Outdoor shelters for neighborhood wildlife

A look at the many outdoor winter shelters that may be used (or constructed) to provide safety for feral colonies.

You may provide many types of outdoor cat shelters in your neighborhood. Almost any kind of “container” may be transformed into a cozy space with a bit of imagination. The most important thing is to stack and insulate whatever will serve as a shelter.

Let’s explore some imaginative concepts:

  • You may utilize Styrofoam coolers by putting a smaller cooler inside a bigger one for increased insulation. Use a straw to fill any spaces between the two coolers. Insert a layer inside the cooler for the cats to burrow in for additional warmth. If the fish are delivered in Styrofoam coolers, your local PetSmart may offer you one for free.
  • Two plastic storage containers with locking lids may achieve the same result. Be careful to add Styrofoam and/or straw between the two bins and in the inner bin as bedding. Adding Styrofoam underneath the inside bin will prevent cold from penetrating the container’s floor.
  • Straw bales may be placed around your shelter to provide additional wind and cold air protection. Or use the bales of straw to construct a temporary shelter on your own. Be careful to get some loose straws for bedding. Covering the straw bales with a thick plastic cover will give waterproofing protection.
  • You may utilize an old cooler with a cut-out door. Be careful to use straw as bedding.
    It is also possible to use old (hardcover) baggage with a door cut out. Using a large plastic tarp might provide further protection. Again, do not forget the straw bedding.
  • You may utilize cat carriers, but be careful to add enough straw for bedding and wrap the outside with a thick tarp (since most couriers have several ‘air slots’ that must be covered to prevent cold air adequately). Find a hefty material to utilize as a flap for the front ‘door’ since these openings are often vast and open.
  • Even large duffel bags may be used in a pinch. Place in a location with little wind and lined with straw. A covering with a tarp will provide some protection.

If you want to know more about how to build any of the above shelters, you can always look at some ideas for making shelters on the spot.

In any of the aforementioned “shelters,” you may use blankets or towels for further insulation inside or outside if you are desperate for supplies but check them often for moisture. Wet fabrics might make your cats colder, which is the reverse of what you want.

Building from scratch

Another alternative is to construct a more complex shelter. Unfortunately, there is not enough space in this post for thorough directions, but you may consult these construction blueprints if you are up to the challenge.

No construction expertise is required.

If you do not like to deal with plans, wood, saws, etc., you can always buy an outdoor cat house to give shelter to your neighborhood friends. And if you want to provide even more warmth to any of the coverings mentioned or any location where the cats may recline, you may use a small portable heater or a heating pad that is safe for pets.

Some considerations apply regardless of the kind of shelter chosen. The following considerations apply to all outdoor tops:

  1. Raise the cover above the ground.
  2. Use straw as bedding instead of blankets since blankets absorb moisture and make the environment cooler for cats.
  3. Cover any entrances to the shelter.
  4. Turn the door away from the wind direction.

These guidelines should inspire you to create a secure, cozy, and warm environment for the cats you care for, but don’t forget to feed them appropriately throughout the winter months. Your cat colony should survive the winter months in good condition with regular nutrition (and water) and shelter from the weather.

If you have seen or constructed cat shelters in your region, please share them in the comments section. Additionally, visit Pawsitively Safe for additional pet safety advice.

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